Maybe soda and lime has greater properties of intoxication than I knew. Maybe it’s a function of getting about four hours sleep in a room with no curtains and an adjacent stairwell light that can be seen from space. This morning was a non-hangover hangover, and hard work it was too.

There was the electrical tension in the muscles, stretched eyefeel and spacey weirdness that I associate with the consumption of uppers, only with nothing more than pints of soft drink and a terrible night’s rest. A vaguely antsy feeling was present too, crawly discomfort in shoulder blades and synapses, but instead of chemical guilt it seemed to come more from being soberly if exhaustedly having a lot of associations to work through.

It was a foggy morning in the city. I was up early and moving briskly through thick grey chill to get breakfast. Coffee shops and snack bars were setting out their counters, and I was hopping up and down off kerbs as I crossed roads with a sense of excitement to be about among it all waking up.

The stiffness and tiredness were loosening. The gig had been great. The feelings of self-consciousness were interesting bits of flotsam bobbing past, kind of clustering near a knot of roots, but not lingering especially long.

Since first drinking, never mind the further excursions into other substances, there’ve been (it was occurring to me) so many occasions where the morning after seems to have been a reluctant return to face things I would rather avoid.

The crush of everyday life, the impossible silent dullness of it, the reality of having to work and the limited opportunities to enjoy that, and beyond that foggy morning rat racing, in our own lives, the ways we strive to reach each other, the ways we fall short and the ways we succeed, for those brief sparks of delight…

… the face in the mirror looking back bemused.

At least with a hangover you’ve got a fairly certain chance you’re going to feel better later in the day.

Much more like hard work without! Not so reluctant, maybe, but still. It’s a lot to process before coffee.

Finally a week’s holiday arrives at school, with parents’ evening bringing a long day at the end of a long week closing out an interminable half term.

Yet the busyness was actually a boon, and we seemed to end for the break all feeling a positivity at odds with the stresses of the preceding days. Time can seem to go quicker when it’s packed with tasks. On top of the inspection that took up three days, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in some Continuing Professional Development (CPD): two days of training on mental health and well-being issues facing children and young people, alongside intervention strategies.

The training provided some personal insights as well, with several useful reminders of processes, situations and responses from my past that seemed directly relevant now. It was a week in which I found myself having a fair few mirror conversations about drink, anxiety, motivation. Taking private moments to talk through feelings and frustrations, signs and symptoms.

Had a good word with myself today, the executive washroom summary of which is that I am feeling resolute.

Resolute in the face of a familiar triad of exhaustion, release, and relief, all of which had by the end of the day nudged forward an oasis mirage of a refreshing trio of beers. I was in the washroom taking a few minutes out from talking through exam grades and chances and personalised targets. I was thinking about beers. Beers that would probably have acted as a prelude to a continuance of drinking, lasting probably all weekend and – given the onset of half term – probably into the middle of the next week.

It would not have been hard partying but, if past practice is any guide, a determined slow chug from each mid-afternoon and on. For days. Each new day an accumulation reinforcing an old and tested pattern.

Dear reader, it is the pattern this set of writings is intended to chart! A pattern I have resolved to explore, trace out, colour in…

Reflecting on this resolution, the urge to give in, to allow myself that reward, to get home, kick back, have just a few and then applaud some kind of strength in so doing… was easier to overcome. Yes, I damn well amn’t, I thought, washing hands and inspecting my face. The beer bottles dissolved in the blast from the hand dryer.

Yet… I know the booze is just one of a number of factors here. Overcoming the sneery interior voice critiquing this positive affirmation as a tad self-congratulatory, a bit simplistic, was on this occasion a matter of pistol fingers and a silly face before leaving the washroom. But it was interesting to hear that tone make a slight return.


Shit, they might have got away.

This was going to be another worked-up, serious-faced, lengthy post discussing language, words, and the wording worders who mangle them.

Languages change. Given this, one has to adapt, keep up, or risk not making sense. This is an individual thing, though, and attempts to impose orthodoxies on others should be resisted. Words can be keys or cages. It is advisable to use them carefully.


One could aim at least to see when familiar or habitual ways of saying things might cause confusion or upset – are not developing anything.

Contexts change too, and the importance of being aware of this was exemplified in the recent revelations of English soccer administrator Richard Scudamore’s infelicitous emails as seen in the Mirror, also reported on BBC, in the Telegraph, etc.

The Mirror’s headline:

England football supremo Richard Scudamore made sexist slurs in a string of emails to soccer pals

To recap, briefly: British man in his 50s, father of five, former Head Boy of his school, former law student, and footballer, turns out to be a Bantersaurus Rex. Imagine our surprise!

With a strange next step in the process of “whistle-blowing”, former temporary PA Rani Abraham had passed the sorry dossier of shame to the Daily/Sunday Mirror.

The Mirror website updates its links frequently, but when I first saw the “sexist slurs” article, it was juxtaposed with this in the sidebar:

Sexy selfies of the week! Bikinis, bums and boobs – we’ve got it all right here

"Uh... jiggle?"

At that point I stopped getting worked up and started giggling.

Languages change. Contexts are important. Keepy-uppy.